Is a 1-5 rooster to hen ratio a bad idea?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by new2pheasants, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. new2pheasants

    new2pheasants Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, so I haven't kept birds in years but a new move to a place that I can keep a small flock is happening. I'm still in the planning stages, planning and building the coop in the next month and looking to pick up chicks in May. Ive decided on Barnevelder chickens instead of the Muscovy ducks I usually raise, I've kept chickens before but only because they were abandoned, good layers but stupid birds.
    I'm hoping I enjoy my chicken experience with the Barnevelder breed more, anyways to my point.

    I only wanted to start with 6 chickens, 5 hens and a rooster but the breeder is telling me I will have issues with that ratios and my hens will get beat up, they recommend 8-10 hens per rooster. Thoughts on a small flock please. I may decide my husband can't have his rooster or may decide to get some cheaper chickens to make up the numbers as the Barnevelder breed are not cheap.
    The coop will be a good size and they will be able to free range a decent amount of a fenced yard, I just didn't want to many to start with but sourcing these birds are hard so I may not get another chance for a few years.
     
  2. PirocaKeeper

    PirocaKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Usually a good ratio is 8-10, but 5 hens to a rooster should be ok. Of course the number of hens is not the only thing to consider. You can have 10-15 hens to a rooster and he will mate more often with those he prefers, regardless of how many there are. For example I have around 30 birds (4 roosters) and some of the hens I call "the hot chicks in town" as they are preferred by most of the roosters, while some of the hens are almost exclusive to a rooster, so I think you should be ok. Not a bad idea to add a couple more or other breed, if nothing else they will provide eggs for you to consume. Your choice.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    With free-range birds I get away with a one to one ratio so long as only one male. Hens are in impeccable feather. To prevent feather loss with your 1 to 5 ratio I suggest you feed a diet a little higher in protein than what is considered optimal for just egg production. Also make so their habitat is more diverse providing diversions prevent social issues. I would also confine rooster separately from hens as he matures releasing him only after his adult feathers are fully in place.
     
  4. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In all reality, it will really depend on your rooster. Some roosters are calm enough to not overwhelm just a few hens. Others will completely tear such a low number of hens up through over-mating. Go ahead and try if your husband really wants a rooster but do it knowing that you will have to play it by ear until you get a feel for that rooster's personality. If you start noticing a lot of bald spots on your hens or your hens running for cover when he is around, start rethinking the situation.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    A fully mature rooster will not harass hens in a manner that causes them to have fear if they belong to his harem. Immature rooster often do not have that concept down and it is those roosters most newbies have limited their experience to.
     
  6. new2pheasants

    new2pheasants Out Of The Brooder

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    I was thinking of some black copper marans as well and don't mind more eggs and if I did hatch some crossbreeds I would be happy to just raise them for dinner.
    So I may just up my numbers a bit with another breed, I just wanted to ask opinions.
     
  7. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would get the 5 hens plus the rooster than fill in with another 4-6 hens of other beeedsm. The eggs will be identifiable for hatching if you want to sell fertile eggs. BCM can be pricey too. Go with some variety like an EE, ameraucana (olive egger chicks), a broody breed to raise some chicks for you or just some eye candy.
     
  8. new2pheasants

    new2pheasants Out Of The Brooder

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    I think this is the plan after some discussion, my husband wants Plymouth rocks so we'll give that a go for starters.

    The reason I was looking at BCM is because their very common around me as they got super popular around here a few years ago, I can buy them at 1$ per chick while the Barney's are gonna cost me 20$ per.

    But I'll see how my husband's choice goes.

    Thank you for everyones comments.
     
  9. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey, if you can get BCM's for $1, go for it. In other places, they are much more pricey.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    In my opinion, from the set-up you described, you will probably be fine with that 5-1 ratio. They are living animals so no one can give you any guarantees but it sounds like you have plenty of room for them. That’s a really good thing. There are some things to watch for.

    As Centrarchid said, age is a factor. With mature consenting adults you seldom have problems, but if the ones you are getting are chicks they have to go through puberty. They mature at different rates, hormones are running uncontrollably wild, and neither the cockerel nor the pullets have the technique or behavior down so mating can be really disturbing if you don’t know and understand what is going on.

    Mating is not just about fertile eggs either, it’s also about dominance. A cockerels hormones are telling him to dominate the pullets and they don’t want to be dominated until he and they mature more. Since he is bigger he will likely try to force them. Adolescent chicken mating is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes injuries do occur because it can be violent. But once they become consenting adults it normally calms down tremendously.

    Since they are individuals it does not always calm down. Some roosters are just brutes. Some hens will refuse to accept any rooster’s dominance. A lot of that is the individual personalities. There are too many good roosters and hens to put up with that. But in the vast majority of cases, they do calm down when they mature.

    It’s not unusual for a hen to occasionally lose a feather during mating, but some hens have brittle feathers. No matter how good the rooster is, the feathers are so brittle they just break off and leave bare spots. That can be dangerous because the rooster’s claws or maybe spurs can cut the hen and start it bleeding during mating. Chickens can be cannibals if they see blood on another chicken. Not always but it does happen. It’s normally much worse during adolescence but some mature roosters with mature hens have such bad technique that they can cause bare backs. It’s not always brittle feathers.

    The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs, which it sounds like you do. Any other reason to have a rooster is pure personal preference. I always recommend that you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. For some people that is zero. It’s not because you are guaranteed to have problems with more roosters or low hen to rooster ratios, it’s because problems are more likely.

    At the same time, there is no bad thing about having more hens of different breeds if you want to. If you want to keep your bloodlines pure, just get hens that lay a distinctively different egg, maybe white or blue/green. Both Barneveleders and Marans are supposed to lay fairly dark eggs, but there is no guarantee of that. The eggs from either breed can be quite a bit lighter than you would expect. You can’t always tell them apart from a hen that is supposed to lay a lighter brown egg. Often you can but not always. Living animals don’t come with guarantees. Still the Barred Rocks could work of that breeder is breeding for dark eggs. Take a look at the color of eggs his flock is laying to assure yourself they really ae dark.

    Good luck. I think you have a workable plan either way.
     

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